December – Preparing the way of the Lord
This month we are preparing the way of the Lord in anticipation and we are being challenged to be creative as we as Rev. Karen Mitchell-Lambert shares her creativity via her Lectionary Doodles post. This month, to help you in your Advent discipline, you can download and colour-in the illustration provided for us by Karen. Enjoy!
4 December: Second Sunday of Advent, Matthew 3:1-12
John the Baptist is out in the desert, challenging us to ‘Prepare the way of the Lord…’ But what does that mean? It was a call by John to repent and get things in order with God. I wonder if part of that call was to shake people out of habits and rituals, to make them ask if those things were helping them to live closer to God’s way?
What would John the Baptist look like in our current age? Who are the prophets in the desert calling out to us to change our ways? The first that came to me was in Australia’s literal desert, and the Aboriginal communities there, challenging us to be more generous in how we treat those seeking asylum.
The message of John was not always liked, and sometimes our response to modern day prophets can be the same. We also know things are not as they could be yet we believe God has answers, a vision and a way forward. We need to prepare ourselves to be ready to hear Him.
What are your prophets saying to you about what you need to get ready?
11 December : Third Sunday of Advent, Matthew 11:2-11
We are back with John the Baptist, but now he is in jail and things are not going so well. His faithfulness in speaking the truth and calling people to account has landed him in a bit of hot water. Sometimes when we are being faithful, we can end up in difficult places or things don’t work out. Sometimes, a bit of encouragement is all we need to sit well in our difficulty; we just need a word that we are not alone and not forgotten to God.
‘Go and tell John what you hear and see’ is the word Jesus sent to John. Remind John about what this is all about. Jesus encouraged those who were weary and starting to doubt. However, he also rebuked those who were going out to check out the latest things.
People at the time of Jesus were looking for something more. What do you go to the ‘wilderness’ to see? A prophet? Jesus is much more than a prophet but is he enough for you?
18 December: Fourth Sunday of Advent, Matthew 1:18-25
In this Bible passage, I am hearing lots about doubt. One example is Joseph discovering his fiancé is pregnant. When I talked with my confirmation class about this, we were imagining what it would have been like for him. Such an awful feeling of betrayal and so many hopes dashed. For us, the story Mary tells of the Holy Spirit would have felt like salt in the wound. Must have been a big leap for Joseph to go from this place of betrayal to understanding this child’s importance; that it was God’s way of being with humanity.
I have only once had a dream that I knew was really important. Contained in its bizarre story was the name of my son. I was pregnant and my husband and I had not agreed on a name. Sometimes, we just get a sense of something being important. God can step in and bring clarity. Getting ready for the coming of God can mean being open to letting go of what we thought, so we can see things in a new way. This may have taken Joseph some time to be convinced of but, when we take some of the steps of faith, the new vision of God becomes clearer.
Is there anything God wants you to have a new perspective on?
25 December: Christmas Day, Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)
There are so many images of Christmas where Mary and Joseph are seen to be thrown out the back shed with the animals, alone. In recent years, I have heard what would have more likely been the case for them.
Animals were often brought into the lower part of the house, the people slept just above, and there was sometimes a spare room. I wonder if the manger was because it was all so unexpected.
For me, the image of Jesus’s birth this year is different. A little one passed with joy from loving relative to the next. But this child doesn’t just bring joy to those around him; he brings a message: God hears you, God sees you and you are not forgotten!
What will you do this year to hear anew the message of Christmas?
The illustration provided with this post to download is a reflection on John the Baptist and who are the current prophets in our environments of the deserts and oceans.
These reflections were prepared for us by the Rev. Karen Mitchell-Lambert. You can visit her Lectionary Doodles website here.